Good Morning again! I am glad you have come back today, that means you are ready for me to brag on God! Because you know..today is Faithful Friday so what better time to boast on His Faithfulness.
Have you been enjoying your Independence celebrations? This week was filled with fireworks, fun, family and FOOD!
In the past this would be a potent concoction that would send me into a tizzy.
You would not want to be around to receive any of the spillage, when bad food decisions took over after a “fun and festive” occasion. Bad choices only felt good for a moment. Even if it was my favorite foods. Even when it was an occasion that so deserved all the grandeur, I would never give myself permission to just enjoy a celebration. I almost immediately would feel the guilt and shame of not being more controlled… I would quickly start to rationalize options to change the decisions I had made, because I hated feeling like a bad girl. Why? Why didn’t I have self control. How could it be that I was still so undisciplined?
I had already believed that I was damaged goods and somehow or another I began to accumulate a list of foods that either confirmed or contradicted these thoughts. My need to feel good enough was governed by what I ate. When I felt shameful and filled with self loathing,(which was not uncommon) I would exacerbate those feelings with poor choices, or deprive myself altogether, impacting my bad girl feelings. These became patterns of behavior that eventually took on a life of their own. Although often remorseful, deep inside I felt as if I was out of God’s reach.
“The Warden” was coy enough to have me believe this was my” thorn in the flesh”, as I mentioned Monday. I no longer anticipated that I would have more than a days grace, where I wasn’t being controlled by my need to control my food on some sort of level. Like any behavior that has spiraled out of control, this was an exhausting way to live. (There is NO freedom in control.) It was often inquired of me, “Why did I keep doing this to myself?” Try as I might to start over every Monday and be made new, I genuinely struggled to understand what was wrong with me. I failed again and again only leaving me further devastated by my inability to unravel myself from this obsession. Shame would be heaped on and needless to say the pattern of failure threw me even deeper into despair.
Jennene Eklund says this of shame in her book Overthrow “ Shame is a parasite. It will attach itself to anything if it is given the opportunity. It sucks the life out of grace and twists it into guilt. It preys on things that are wholesome and pure.” (Overthrow is written by Jennene and is based on her experience with disorderly eating.)
This past Monday, I also spoke about the process that the Holy Spirit has used to bring me out of my prison, to freedom. I have had the unadulterated privilege of experiencing freedom from shame and a food obsession, for 6 months now. I love to share stories about how God has descended into an area of life and done miracles for my family. But this, this is my miracle and I shutter to say, I stopped expecting it.
Life has been about what I was or wasn’t eating. For as long as I remember. I truly don’t remember a time when I wasn’t surrendered to this idol I had come to worship. Maybe you can appreciate what I am talking about when I call it an obsession or my idol. Certainly, I have spent more of this lifetime than ever necessary living according to what my flesh wanted. (Overthrow, by Jennene Eklund) I had been blinded by this thing that ultimately needed to be put to death. But, what I should have been starving, instead I gave enormant amounts of attention and “nurturing”. When it came to others and their addictions I was quick to chime in “What we feed grows”. And it did. It consumed my waking moments. It hardly represented living. I know that I wasn’t unique in this, so I know that perhaps someone is reading this that needs to know…this is NOT living.
How deceived I was, taking the good gift of food and giving it so much power. Letting it be the thing that brought me shame. Instead of going to the Father with my pain and struggles, I covered them up myself.
In her book, Jennene states that “ food was never intended to have preeminence over us. When we view food as powerful or addictive, we turn it into a controlled substance that is feared and avoided at all costs.”
That is exactly the lenses that I had started to use, as early as I can remember, to view food. Every time the pain got too real, I medicated with food. I literally have called it my drug of choice, and made references to my local bakery, as if it were my dealer, copping my pain killer and sitting up the road in my car unable to restrain myself from whatever fix I had managed to put my hands on. Moments after, I sat in complete devastation, in the wreckage of the actions I had just partaken in. Then I started seeing how this friend was betraying me. I ached inside to be different- punished my body over and over (for years at a time) for being so deceitful-so loatheful- I’ve weighed far too little and far too much.
Friend, I could share hundreds of examples of how powerless I had become. Clearly life was unmanageable. Oh and my family? The irony is, I had all these fears of my kids struggling with drugs and alcohol, when today most of them struggle with food and body image. I would not be exaggerating to say that it consumed me far more than I consumed it.
Praise God, this is not where my story ends! That was my past
I want to go back to this past January to the CR meeting when that courageous woman shared her story. The night that God seemed to lift my shame from me at the altar of that church. Our Celebrate Recovery Ministry Leader was on stage and just kept praying, “No more shame, now follow through”
That night I left knowing that something had changed.
The next morning a peculiar thing happened almost as soon as I woke up. One of my first coherent thoughts was that this body, that I have so despised for my whole life, has been used by God to create and give life to 7 beautiful people. That was a beautiful awareness, that I had never had before, that I credit the Holy Spirit giving to me. That was the seed of hope that morning, 1/27/18, that became the start of something new.
This thought could only make sense after the release of guilt and shame that I had spilled out on the altar at church the previous night.
I grabbed my coffee and made a decision to turn my cell phone off and pick up this book Overthrow that I had felt nudged to read for weeks now. ( I had started reading it, in early December, but distractions were many and I was not really grasping what I was reading. Do I have any distracted readers in the crowd today? You understand what I mean, right?) Yvette spoke with great conviction about distractions last week in her spin on freedom (if you haven’t read it, might I encourage you to do so.)
This Saturday morning, however, I felt as if my perspective was changing, even moment by moment. I cannot really explain it, just that God had gotten ahold of pieces of my heart I had never fully surrendered before. Everything that January Saturday morning looked and felt just a little different.
I am going to share right from my own pages recorded then and 30 days later about how God moved in my heart and took possession of parts He had not yet had.
“Shame has been the iron plate that has held everything else down-but the top has been unhinged- that Saturday I fought ferociously with desperation to be led down a dark familiar hallway once again…yet this time the stars aligned- I walked through a door, in my mind that said “ Blessed Assurance” – I played that song that quiet Saturday afternoon and cried glorious tears as I savored my first moments of freedom.
In Jennene’s book she shares her thoughts of Pierre Tielhard de Chardin on how “we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” This became somewhat of a revelation for me. I have spent so much time concerning myself with my body and my food, time I didn’t spend nurturing my soul. On the contrary, I could undo the work of the Holy Spirit in a heartbeat.
“Your body does not exist for you to mold and make it into what you feel is most pleasing to you. It exists for you to offer to God, to be used by God, and to be redeemed by God….” (page 188 Overthrow by Jennene Eklund)
My copy of Overthrow is underlined, brackets are used to section off paragraphs that spoke volumes to me about my need to change. There are pages folded over and heartfelt prayers scribbled out on pages throughout the book. A book, that I had at a point in time allowed myself to be too distracted to read. And the book is GOOD.
It is better than GOOD- It has been a tool that God has used to change a broken part of me that I had determined was unfixable.
I hear a new voice. It is the Holy Spirit shouting You are FREE
– not healed- FREE!
Free to go back even, which is a daunting thought-
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
Each day I get to choose FREEDOM!
Pray with me please:
Oh gracious Father, You are a light in the darkness always. You have shone your light and revealed in us places where freedom has been a struggle and quite honestly, LORD, we have given up the fight even when You promised to deliver us.
Jesus Christ came, to give us freedom and all too often, we use our freedom to satisfy our flesh which only leads to greater enslavement and emptiness. Help us to pursue freedom in a Savior, who can satisfy like nothing else can. Redeem the time, I have seen as wasted, LORD, because Your word says that You can. Let me not fear looking within or sharing my real self with others, characteristics of one who is truly free.
Continue to teach me to praise you and to give thanks in all circumstances. I pray Lord, that your hope and joy will continue to fill the places in me where shame and guilt had once been.
Thank you for choosing death so that we might live. Let us not put our faith in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God, Amen